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Lululemon Not So Zen Over Calvin Klein Patent Infringement

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The Astro pants, featuring patented "V"

Lululemon, the Vancouver-based activewear line favored by young mothers on this side of the border, is making very un-zen moves: It's suing over alleged patent infringement. The main offender? Calvin Klein.

As we've learned from lawsuits past, fashion patents are hard to come by, and even harder to win a suit over. Susan Scafidi of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University Law School in New York, clarifies:

For Lululemon to have gone to the trouble of obtaining not one but three patents on the v-shaped waistband in question—one patent limited to the waistband itself, and the other two showing different styles of yoga pants incorporating that waistband—the company must feel strongly about its ownership of the design. Beyond that particular intellectual property asset, Lululemon also has an interest in maintaining the uniqueness and innovative spirit of its brand in the eyes of devoted fans and potential investors.

Plus, it doesn't hurt to stir the publicity pot with some heavy-hitting ingredients like Calvin Klein.

So what makes Lululemon think they have a case? Their trademark V-shaped waistband falls under "design patents," which are obtained for ornamental reasons. Think ponies and crocodiles. (The other big type of patent that can be applied to fashion—though not in Lululemon's case—is the "utility patent." Think Wonderbras.)

Scafidi says that protecting the brand's signature designs is worth it for Lululemon because they'll use them over and over again, in multiple iterations, until yoga-heads the world over are downward dogging in some form of the "Astro" pant.

So will Calvin Klein back down? Probably. But stay tuned for courtroom updates just in case there's any Gucci vs. Gucci excitement.

· Lululemon, Klein lawsuit Offers Rare Glimpse Into Fashion Patents [Vancouver Sun]
· C.Wonder Sued by Artist for Copyright Infringement [Racked]